EPA Orders Groundwater Cleanup at Toxic 'Mega' Superfund Site in California

Sept. 29, 2011

Aerojet cleanup plan will fully capture groundwater contamination and prevent migration to surrounding water resources

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is ordering a $60 million cleanup of rocket fuel-polluted groundwater at the Aerojet Superfund Site in Sacramento County, Calif., the latest phase of a long-term decontamination project at the site.  The extent of toxic pollution at the site makes it one of the largest and most comprehensive Superfund groundwater cleanups in California.

A 27-sq-mile swath of groundwater underneath and around the former aerospace facility is polluted with several compounds, including very high levels of perchlorate and a known developmental toxin. Aerojet, under the direction of the EPA, will contain the underground plume to prevent it from spreading into nearby rivers and streams. Future plans will also treat groundwater within the site’s boundaries.

"This cleanup tackles the worst areas first to prevent toxic chemicals from fouling any additional water sources," EPA Regional Administrator Jared Blumenfeld said.  "Not only is EPA holding Aerojet accountable for its pollution, but we want to assure local residents that they will have safe drinking water for years to come as the company works to restore the underground aquifer."

The EPA approved the first groundwater cleanup for a small, highly populated section of the Aerojet site in 2001. In the enforcement orders announced, Aerojet must fund and construct a water treatment facility that will limit water contamination within set boundaries and purify some 25 million gal of groundwater daily in order to prevent the loss of additional drinking water supplies.

The widespread contamination at the site will require at least five additional cleanup plans for groundwater and soil over the coming decade. EPA will continue to oversee the company’s efforts and actively monitor a large number of wells at the site to assess the efficacy of the groundwater containment system. The agency is also working with state and local environmental regulatory partners, including the state water board and department of toxic substances control.

Source: EPA

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